Published on January 19, 2019

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photograph by Rebecca Deczynski

Meal prepping, in practice, not theory, was bumming me out. I’ve always been one to pack my lunch for school and work because it’s an easy way to save money and eat healthily. At some point, though, I grew tired of the seemingly failproof meals I made (quinoa, plus sweet potatoes, plus any other random vegetables), and I found myself making excuse after excuse for why I wasn’t bringing my lunch to work. After all, I thought, my Sweetgreen habit was hurting my wallet, but at least it was good for my body.

Finally, I accepted that the cycle had to stop, especially since I work in Manhattan—where you can easily blow $50 a week on lunch alone. Buying lunch every day wasn’t sustainable, so I had to learn how to love meal prepping again.

 

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My last purchase of 2018 was on Amazon, where I snagged a stainless-steel bento box, a portable utensil kit, and a yellow heat-retaining tumbler big enough to hold soup, a stew, or oatmeal. I studied up on the best meal-prep advice, spent an afternoon in the kitchen using actual recipes instead of just roasting any given vegetable with olive oil and salt, and packed my resulting lunch in its brand-new, cute container.

I posted it on Instagram: 10 people alone DMed me about my utensils, and several others inquired about my bento box. Now, over halfway into January, I’m still fully invested in my meal prepping, and my lunches actually taste good. The food itself is an important part of meal prep (more on that another day), but the first thing that made me feel more excited about this chore that can feel boring or laborious to others was my Amazon order. If you’re struggling to meal prep, they might just be the inspiration you need too.

What I’m Currently Using

After I finish my cooking, I place everything I’ve made (after it’s cooled!) into glass Pyrex containers—no plastic! Not only are they a more sustainable option, but they also keep food fresh.

I never thought I would be excited about portable utensils until I stumbled across this little kit that’s already garnered tons of compliments.

I’m not usually hungry when I first wake up, but after I get into the office, I’m starving. This tumbler has been great for keeping oatmeal warm on my route from northern Brooklyn to midtown Manhattan. One day, I’ll try using it for a nice, warming lunchtime soup.

With two levels and a small container that’s great for holding a thick sauce or hummus, this bento box actually fits enough food so you won’t be hungry again by 3 p.m. Warning: It’s not totally leakproof, so be sure not to fill it with liquids.

Sometimes, I opt for this plastic bento, which is slightly smaller than the stainless-steel option. Best of all: It’s dishwasher- and microwave-safe!

On days when I’m feeling especially snacky, these reusable bags work just as well as any Ziplock while also being much better for the environment.

Usually, I wear a small leather backpack to work that can hold my lunch vessel of choice, but when I don’t, this Ban.do lunchbox (which I have in a sold-out gold hue) is handy.

More Meal-Prep Accessories I’m Eyeing

Modern Picnic’s high-end lunch boxes look like particularly chic and classic purses. They come in a range of versatile shades and are also insulated—talk about form meets function.

When I can’t risk a spill, this salad-specific lunch box will make a great option for food storage: It’s leakproof!

If I knew anything about cars, I would compare the Prepd lunchbox to some covetable, high-end vehicle. Sadly, I do not, so I’ll simply say: This lunch box is one of the most beautiful and useful ones on the market.

I’m inspired to learn exactly what a “macro bowl” is just so I can justify purchasing one of these to-go bowls.

Yes, I have been a fan of bento box lunch sets since I was in high school. Yes, I always feel like I need a new one. This one, with its handy sections and pretty blue colors, brings me a sense of calm in the face of all the food prep I plan to do this weekend.

More meal-prep advice:

Yes, There Is a Right Way to Meal Prep—One Pro Shows Us How

25 Veggie-Friendly Sandwiches to Make This Week

Trader Joe’s Just Released its Best-Seller List—This Product Is a Clear Winner

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